The problem of Alnwick Castle's position can be summed up thus: within fifty yards, the castle walls can be over-seen, and within four hundred yards, the very topmost part of the castle can be over-seen. This is completely unheard of in British castles -- nearby castles like Warkworth, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh and Norham are all sited at the highest points in the locality.
So ... why was Alnwick castle sited where it is ? Well, the fault does not lie with the castle builders; recent excavations under Alnwick castle show the foundations of a Roman fort. Therefore, the castle has been deliberately NOT sited where the town is (the logical construction point). Water supply is not an issue, since there is no shortage of underground streams in Alnwick (especially within the town walls !). Indeed the amount of burns within the small area of Alnwick Town is staggering: the Clayport Cundy, the Greenwell Stream, the Allerburn, another Allerburn (or Kiln Burn), the Wash Burn/Canongate Burn, and the Bow Burn. Many of these burns were used for the Castle moat (filled in during the 16th century).
In older times, when experienced builders were possibly closer to nature than they are now, great import was placed upon signs and superstitions. This is the only explanation for Alnwick Castle NOT being at the logical, higher site. There is plenty of evidence for much older fortifications in the area being successfully placed upon higher ground (for example, the ancient encampment on the golf course, where the Collingwood Napoleonic monument was later built).
The term "hulne" predates (and in fact may be the orgin of ) "aln". "Hulne" refers to "bright place", and was the location of the very first Carmelite monastery in England (at Hulne Park in what is now Alnwick). Is it possible that De Vescy (a predecessor of the Percys who controlled this area) in the 13th century invited these "white friars" to create an abbey to assist in controlling the subterranean evil bound by older forces ?
Although Northumberland was over-run by Vikings, it is consistently stated that the name "Alnwick" has Anglo-Saxon roots: meaning a farm on the river Aln. However it is plain that "aln" mainly derives from the ancient Celtic "Alwin", which refers to a shining white stream ( OR "holy/mighty one"). Note how the Roshaniyya symbol (associated with the Illuminati) for "light" is a crescent VERY similar to that formerly associated with the Percys. Note also that the Percys appear to have disassociated themselves from this crescent (which heraldry indicates can either mean: "One who has been honoured by the chief" or "Hope of greater glory (horns to the chief)").
Alne in North Yorkshire is not far from Topcliffe, where the old baronial fortress of the Percy family was originally. Not a vestige remains of that fortress, not even a stone scavenged for nearby buildings. It is as if it has been wiped from the face of the earth. Only a mound and a few ditches remain.
Interestingly, the only other placename in England similar to Hulne is "Holne" in Devon, which is has legends associated with it of "burial of the dead amongst the living". Holne has a major old Benedictine abbey nearby (Buckfast).
Even more interesting is the fact that before the Carmelites, there was a Praemonstratensian Abbey (in Alnwick) of the White Canons (again one of the earliest in England) at the Hulne Park site, of which the gatehouse alone now stands. Historically, the De Percy family put members of their own family into "their" monasteries. This Abbey was noted for possessing many famous relics (including the foot of Simon de Montford, and the chalice of St Thomas of Canterbury).
The relics associated with Alnwick Castle range from Neolithic cist covers (old "cup and ring" stones from pre-Roman Britain), to a "Holy Thorn" given by Mary Queen of Scots to Earl Thomas Percy -- this was one of the thorns from Christ's crown of thorns !
Now, one of the most absolutely incredible facts about Alnwick Castle is that it houses what most British scholars tend to think of as the nearest thing to ... the Holy Grail.
In 1725, in Rudge Coppice not far from Silbury, a 2nd century cup was found in a well. This "name cup" or "Rudge Cup" has wording around the rim, and is now held at Alnwick Castle.
Eerie though it is, Alnwick Castle stands upon another incredible position. Around Alnwick, there are very few major man-made monuments: Malcolm's Cross/Well to the North, The Lion Column to the East, the Collingwood Pillar (in Alnwick Golf Course) to the South, and Hulne Abbey to the West. Draw a line between the North-South landmarks, and one between the East-West landmarks, and they cross ... over Alnwick Castle.
(Astonishingly enough, the two only major technological features to the east and to the west of Alnwick are: the radar station at RAF Boulmer, and the "golf ball" radar station on Alnwick Moor. If you draw a line between them ... yes, it passes directly through Alnwick Castle).
So, we have Alnwick Castle, built several hundred yards from where it really should have been, and the old walled town of Alnwick, built over an intriguing tracery of underground streams, and labyrinthine tunnels. Much of this would mean nothing if it were not for the unsettling history of Alnwick lords themselves.
The infamous master mathematician and alchemist John Dee (author of the "Hieroglyphic Monad") in the late 16th century tutored the then Earl of Northumberland's children, and was given access to documents looted by that lord. That Earl was also known as the "wizard earl". Dee himself is well known as the character that Faust seems to have later been based upon.
Check out my web links page for further information on this ; it is intriguing that in 1614 alone, three workers at the castle died in mysterious circumstances -- one committed suicide by throwing himself down a well ( !!! ), another suffered convulsions and fell from the batttlements, and another choked to death.
However, there is a strong vein of mysticism that runs through all the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland.
In 1776, the Earl of Northumberland sank shafts at Silbury by the famous Avebury Circle, and although ostensibly looking for "treasure", the diggings stopped when certain samples of horn were found and removed. (An old Alnwick Christmas custom held that "O Sapientia" began when children carried holed and polished horn). Recent work at Silbury has found that the Neolithic mound there was constructed by farmers using bone tools (a piece of horn found at the surface was dated as approx 4500 BC). A theory is that the mound was originally octagonal, and could actually have been covering something up ...
Although not commonly known, Lieutenant-General Hugh Smithson (who was later to marry Lady Percy and be gifted the title of Percy by royal decree) -- he had an illegitimate half-brother, who later went on to found America's famous Smithsonian Institute. It is thought that the Smithsonian was a model for HP Lovecraft's Miskatonic institution, and indeed underground forces, tunnels and elder creatures feature prominently in the extensive Lovecraftian mythos.
The geology of Alnwick is simple enough: mainly shales, very old limestone (between 280 to 345 million years old), very old sandstone, plus some coal and an uncommon whin sill in places. The igneous sill is noted as being very low in its iron content. There are still quarries in various locations near Alnwick (indeed there was one within Hulne Park), and mine shafts were recorded as having been sunk not only on Alnwick Moor, but also "at the town head on the highway, and at the bottom of Clayport Bank". So, simply put, exploratory shafts have been sunk all across Alnwick Town.
It is well known that Alnwick stands upon a variety of underground springs and burns, many of which can be seen breaking surface when rainfall is high. Indeed, the actual site of King Malcolm of Scotland's murder is NOT Malcolm's Cross, but Malcolm's Wellspring, which is still marked by over-grown, ramshackle stonework. Other wells have been known to exist within Alnwick (but also outside the town walls), such as the Stonwell which once was sited close to the old Alnwick Brewery in Dispensary Street. The "Pin Well" in Hulne Park was witnessed as being "neatly bricked round", and a custom was to walk about it three times. The Half-Moon Springs in Hulne Park were a major source of local waters. There are other wells -- the Greystone (off Green Batt), the Church Well (near St Michael's church, and the Greenwell (over Greenwell burn). Another well may have existed near the top of the Clayport burn.
It has been theorised that forces of good and evil survive in the earth even today, and are tapped by some for reasons of their own. It is likely that the Romans recognised the area that old Alnwick Town inhabits as an area of evil geomancy (probably locals would have found this out long before -- the Romans were clever enough to read into locals' habits and fears). When the Norman influx arrived in Northumberland, predominant Gnostic sects (such as the heretic Albigenses) would have identified the area as one of great magick. Note the presence of the so-called "Percy" crescent in the Gnostic symbol of power.
To imprison such a primal force within the ground was a massive undertaking (as at Silbury), and it seems likely that Alnwick Castle was primarily constructed NOT to keep people out, but to keep things WITHIN ! Stone is now a much misunderstood medium in holding down energies which are used to travelling below the surface, and a large castle was evidently the ideal form for what is effectively a massive seal upon the earth.
There is a very ancient superstition that stones actually grow while lying on the earth (and where better than by a spring) through a "vein" which links them to the ground. Ancient Celtic superstition has it that stones with holes ("holed/holy stones") possess the energy to combat evil.
It is not clear when the task of guarding the underground force in Alnwick became that of serving it, but that is evidently what occurred. (Enough battles have been fought for Alnwick Castle to fill several books : other distasteful events include the housing of over 5000 Scots prisoners there after Cromwell's victory at Dunbar, before the surviving Scots (only 3000!) -- many dying of dysentery -- were force-marched off, then transported into slavery in the American colonies).
Grimoires (such as the Lesser key of Solomon, and the dubious Grimoire of Honorius) were collected over the years, along with any magical/mystical materials (such as horn and wood from similar subterranean sites), and all stored.
A selection of pre-Norman funereal urns, and other Samian pieces from across England have been centralised within Alnwick castle (the Postern Tower).
Also, although much of the "Algernon Egyptian collection" from the Castle Recorder's Tower has since been moved elsewhere, many important pieces have been retained: black basalt sphinxes of Tutmosis III are believed to be present.
Note also that at least one obelisk (Amenhotep II) is now kept at Sion House in London.
Down the centuries, successive controllers of Northumberland (maybe fortunately not all of the same lineage -- from the Tysons to the de Vesci's to the Percys) have either fought to control the energy buried below Alnwick (for whatever ends), or have battled valiantly to maintain the seal binding it to the soil and rock below. Every so often, a tendril of this old menace will sneak out and find its way into the surface world, maybe manifesting itself in our dreams, or our deeds.
However, the battle continues to hold fast this dark thing. Whether or not the current Duke has plans for using it, or for (perhaps) at last confronting it and destroying it forever, there is one thing that is clear. It must never be released.